Recession Marketing: Five Reasons PR is More Important than Ever

27 04 2009

As the economic downturn continues to drag on – and drag down consumer spending, attitudes and marketing budgets along with it – there’s an argument why effective public relations is more important for business-to-business (B2B) marketers than ever. In fact, there are five arguments:

1.      PR builds credibility – PR utilizes third-party opinion-shapers (media) to help you tell your story. Whether it comes through trade media, newspapers, web communications or word-of-mouth, coverage by third-party media sources often provides a sort of implied endorsement and imparts additional credibility (and reach) to your message.

2.      PR leverages cost-effectiveness – more than ever, B2B marketing is all about ROI in recessionary times. PR has proven to be many times more cost-effective than advertising, direct mail and other promotions in B2B and consumer markets alike. For example, a two-page story about a client of ours started a relationship with an automaker that helped the client generate millions of dollars in new revenue.

3.      PR maintains visibility – Many B2B clients have been forced to slash advertising budgets, trade shows and other big-budget promotions. By taking a fraction of the cost-savings from those activities, and beefing up their PR budget to actually step-up low-cost/high-ROI PR activities, these clients can maintain their company’s/brand’s visibility while weathering the economic storms.

4.      PR help grabs market share – Maintaining a positive, visible profile through PR while your competitors are laying low will help your company to win market share or at least position your company to build share when the market rebounds. If your competitors are quiet, your messages can dominate the marketplace.

5.      PR extends trust – Communicating through PR during bad times, as well as good, will build your company’s relationships and trust with media, suppliers and customers alike. As a friend in the market research business once told me: in the absence of data, people make things up. And a corollary to that is: in the absence of communication from you, people assume the worst about you. Remember, for a business, if you’re out of sight, you’re out of your constituents’ minds. And if you’re out of their minds, they may assume that you are out of business. The trust and goodwill you build during these times will pay huge benefits when things turn around. 

Many people see the short-term dangers posed by the recession. These dangers are many and, of course, are real. Yet, some B2B marketers have the vision and the boldness to see beyond the dangers. They see the longer-term opportunities available to those who use the power of PR to do more than just survive … to thrive.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Out of Business?

13 04 2009

A recent study conducted by Nielsen IAG and highlighted in The Center for Media Research’s Research Brief ( ) suggests that financial institutions that are out of sight during difficult times risk being viewed as out of business. It only seems logical that the same holds true for other business segments – such as the automotive industry, for example – that face similar difficulties these days.

Some 55 percent of respondents who said they had seen more advertising for their financial institution reported having “complete confidence” in the health/soundness of that institution, while only 18 percent said they had “little or no confidence” in their company. Conversely, only 18 percent of respondents who saw less advertising from their financial institution over the past six months said they have “complete confidence” in their financial company, with 45 percent saying they have “little or no confidence.”

Less exposure = less confidence.

Nielsen says the study clearly demonstrates the direct link between advertising/promotion and confidence levels, hence the current economic climate makes it more important than ever for financial institutions to bolster confidence among their customers. Most business-to-business marketers would concur …  and would apply that same rationale to other embattled industry segments as well.

Another finding of the study confirms our beliefs about the power of PR: PR outranks advertising in improving customer confidence. According to Nielsen, reading positive stories in the press about their financial institution would increase the confidence for 44 percent of respondents, while seeing regular advertising would increase the confidence of only 25 percent. ( For more info on the Nielsen study go to ).

Bottom line – While many companies are hunkering down in the belief that “the whale that does not surface does not get harpooned,” Nielsen advises: “… taking control of the message in advertising and press can make all the difference.” We agree. Those companies that continue to stay in front of their customers (and there ARE inexpensive ways to do that) are building customer confidence and are positioning themselves well for the turn-around ahead.

What’s your take on this?


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